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If you run a membership organisation then your key KPI has to be the number of people you have on your books.

But getting people to join and stay engaged is always a difficult task.

So in this post, we’re looking at ways to recruit, engage and retain members, whether you have an online-only concern or you have a club in the real world.

We’ve split our tips down into two parts; recruiting new members and retaining the ones you’ve already got for the simple reason that there’s no point in recruiting 100 new members per month if you are losing 200!

In this post we are looking at;

  • Recruiting members
  • Reach out to former members
  • Give perks for current members who recruit new members
  • Use video
  • Develop your own content marketing strategy
  • Use retargeting ads
  • Use the right social media
  • Retaining members
  • Run group challenges
  • Have exit interviews with leavers
  • Say thank you regularly
  • Make it easy to pay
  • Give senior member benefits

Recruiting members

A fresh intake of new members is the lifeblood of any membership scheme or club.

Most successful membership organisations find a specific set of tools that works really well for them and these will often be specific to that club or society.

For example, would the same things work for The National Trust or a small local photography society?

So the best advice is to try a bit of everything. If something doesn’t work then move on to the next tool until you find a few things that work particularly well for you.

So what things can you do to increase your membership intake? Here are our suggestions.

Produce case studies and testimonials

These work really well for membership schemes that provide a particular benefit for the member.

A training club for gym users might produce a case study showing the difference that membership has made or a baking subscription club may show the fantastic cakes that people have produced.

Case studies and testimonials show how good membership will be and reinforces this by showing real-life examples of people who have benefitted

Reach out to former members

Very often people who are looking to grow their membership concentrate on brand new members but there is a rich source of potential sign-ups already existing in your mailing list.

Users don’t always leave because they don’t like what you are offering, often it is because their circumstances have changed or they simply don’t have the time or money at that point to take advantage of what you provide.

But that doesn’t mean that this will always be the case.

Reach out to your former members with a great rejoining offer and see your membership list expand.

Give perks for current members who recruit new members

People buy from people.

So if someone you knew and trusted told you about a service that was amazing then you’d take that seriously right?

Use the power of the people on your membership list and offer them a recruitment bonus for recommending you to their friends and family.

Use video

However you communicate with people, being able to point them to a case study video (see above) or an example of how your community is changing lives is massively powerful.

If you only communicate with people by text then you are missing a trick.

Develop your own content marketing strategy

Content marketing is really powerful and gives potential recruits a clear sight of who you are and what you stand for.

Imagine a photography society sending out a “photo of the month” or a cooking club challenging people to make this week’s featured recipe.

Giving people interesting and valuable things such as recipes and how-to information helps build a sense of community and makes them much more amenable to signing up for a premium service.

Use retargeting ads

If someone has visited your website then it is a fair bet that they are interested in what you have to say.

Retargeting ads show up on the social media and other websites that users visit when they have already been to your site.

This acts as a useful reminder, especially where people meant to sign up but got distracted.

Use this with some great content to drive sign-ups.

Use the right social media

Not every type of social media is right for every type of subscription organisation.

Instagram is great for visual arts like photography, crafting and design.

Youtube works brilliantly where cooks are showing how to produce a particular dish or where musicians are showcasing their music.

LinkedIn is great for business type membership for coaches, advice and information.

The best tip here is to choose the right type of social media for your organisation and for the people you hope to attract and then focus on that.

Do one thing really well rather than try to be on every platform, spreading yourself too thin and not obtaining any meaningful penetration.

Retaining members

Much time, effort and cost is spent acquiring new members, but your cashflow and the lifeblood of your organisation is your existing members, paying their subscriptions regularly. 

The more people cancel, the harder you have to work at recruitment. Improve your retention rates by offering special exclusives, value added member-only services and see your membership list blossom.

Develop a community

People love being part of a community of like-minded individuals. Humans are a social species after all.

The great thing is that a lively community helps with running the system with users giving help and advice to others. The key to this though, is making sure you have people to monitor it, to engage and to raise debate in case it’s beginning to look a little flat.

But it is also much more difficult to leave if you have friends online that you’d miss should you cancel. 

Run group challenges

Alongside developing a community running group challenges is a great way to bond people together and often do some real good in the world.

Could you get together and sponsor some work in the developing nations, collect goods for foodbanks or do sponsored events?

A group activity increases the sense of community that is so important in retaining memberships.

Have exit interviews with leavers

If something was badly wrong with your service would you want to know?

So when someone cancels their membership then you need to find out why otherwise you can’t put it right.

Use standardised questions and look to get to the truth behind their exit.

This is something that nobody likes doing so think about using an automated survey process to collect responses.

Say thank you regularly

Something that we are all guilty of doing is not saying “thank you” enough.

Find a way to say thank you to all of your members for their continued support and make sure you do it regularly.

Sincerity is important here though, so don’t just say it because you think you have to!

Make it easy to pay

Research shows that most membership lapses occur during renewal.

Part of this is because people tend to think about the value they are getting and whether they want to continue with the subscription.

And part of it is because people find it inconvenient to renew.

One way to avoid this is to make sure you are set up to automatically take payment, for example by collecting Direct Debit payments.

Although this may seem like overkill, you’d be surprised how easy this is with a modern and user-friendly system such as Access PaySuite.

Give senior member benefits

If people have been with you a long time then give them a way to recognise this.

If you have an online community then this could be something as simple as a badge or title that automatically changes each year.

Clubs can include a list of senior member anniversaries in their newsletter and subscription services can give a free month for every x number of months as a member.

Building your list is about creativity

The best membership organisations are the ones that find creative ways to increase and retain their membership.

We’d say that you should use your creativity to take our tips and mould them to fit your particular circumstances so that they are attractive to your market.

And don’t forget to ask your members what they’d like to see, you may be pleasantly surprised at what they come up with.

Above all, make sure you try different things as you go along to keep your offer fresh and attractive.

Want to make your payments a walk in the park?

Access PaySuite is especially useful for subscription and membership organisations due to its ease of use and simplicity to set up.Members can set up their payments in just a couple of minutes via your website, and you can be reassured that your funds are collected at the same time each month.

Why not get in touch and let us show how you could revolutionise your membership process.

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